Chip Hitchcock

Posted: December 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 55 Comments »

Filmmakers have many different styles. Some love to make things up as they go along. Others have meticulously planned out every single moment of the film before shooting ever starts. You’ll hear stories of Alfred Hitchcock falling asleep on set. Why? He already knew what was going to happen. It was simply a matter of taking the vision in his head and capturing it on film.

I thought about this when reading Jeff McLane’s Eagles Insights column today. There was a section about Chip Kelly as a playcaller.

“We go over so much what we’re going to do, we almost know what he’s going to call,” Kinne said. “He gives [starting quarterback] Nick [Foles] a lot of confidence out there because we’ve rehearsed so many times and he’s right on with his calls.”

This is a bit different from Hitchcock’s situation, but it did remind me of it. While Chip Kelly doesn’t know the outcome of plays or games, he does seem to have a vision in his head for how things should work. Part of that stems from the fact he believes in simple concepts. Kelly isn’t waiting for the defense to have the perfect coverage so he can burn it for a long TD. His plays are designed to find the weakness in every defense.

Kelly is going to adjust his gameplan based on circumstances, but the offense won’t look wildly different on a weekly basis. Brian Billick once boasted about having 2000 plays in a playbook. That is a coach who is trying to find the perfect play for each specific situation. Kelly is nothing like that. He simply gives his QB options within a simple play so that the offense can deal with anything and isn’t hoping for the right defense. Kelly has a better idea of what will happen since there is less to think about.

The Eagles practice the plays they will run in the upcoming game. They practice them over and over, working toward a goal they’ll never reach – perfection. Kelly preaches that you play how you practice. You can’t just show up on gameday and flip the switch. You must practice well, each and every week. By the time Sunday comes around, Kelly has seen his team run those plays quite a bit. He has a good idea of how they will work during the game.

I think keeping things simpler makes Kelly a better coach and it helps the players to perfect what they do. You’re focusing more on execution than X’s and O’s. Execution is what winning in the NFL is all about. Kelly has mentioned several times that having a play in your playbook does you no good if the team didn’t practice it for that game. He’s focused on execution rather than out-smarting the other team.

I love it. I always thought Andy Reid was guilty of over-thinking things. Kelly keeps it simple and that has paid big dividends for the team and the offense.

* * * * *

McLane’s column covers a variety of good topics. He gets into the question of keeping Riley Cooper and/or Jeremy Maclin next year. We’ve already discussed that situation. My bet is that the Eagles will try to bring back both guys, with Maclin signing a 1-year deal. That would be great, except for Jason Avant. He’d likely be the odd man out.

There is also an interesting bit involving Ced Thornton in there.

Forty-three players from the Eagles’ 53-man roster were polled to pick three teammates they would vote into the Pro Bowl. Players were not permitted to vote for themselves (unless the player was Evan Mathis).

Here was the final tally: 1. LeSean McCoy 38 votes, 2. DeMeco Ryans 31, 3. DeSean Jackson 21, 4. Nick Foles 15, 5. Jason Peters 10, 6. Mathis, 6. 7. Jason Kelce 5, 8. Donnie Jones 4, 9. Fletcher Cox 3, 10. Brandon Boykin 3, 11. Riley Cooper 2, 12. Connor Barwin 1.

Not one single vote for Thornton? Not one. Ugh.

McLane ended the column with this note, which makes the above voting so odd.


Percentage of run stops (41) from Cedric Thornton per run snap (230), which is first in the league among 3-4 defensive ends. (J.J. Watt of the Texans is second at 14.1.)

* * * * *

Les Bowen wrote a good article on the Eagles avoiding a letdown game. The last time the Eagles played the Vikings was the Tuesday night debacle in 2010. A lot of players and coaches have changed since then, but the team does not want a repeat of that miserable night.

I don’t know for sure that the Eagles will win, but I’m almost 100 percent certain it won’t be a letdown game. This partially ties in to the point above where Kelly loves practice so much. He is all about consistency. He doesn’t believe in getting his team up for big games. Kelly preaches that all games are big games.

That, and his obsession with practice, helps to keep the Eagles focused on the task at hand.

The Eagles have had plenty of  5-game winning streaks in the last 15 years. This one feels a bit different. The Eagles are happy to be winning, but I don’t get the sense that the team is getting caught up in the hype. I can’t say that for sure. This is just my perception.

We’ll certainly find out more in the next 3 weeks. What the Eagles do on the field will tell us volumes about the mindset of this team.

* * * * *

Some people are referring to Sunday as a trap game. That’s not really the case. A trap game is one where you are looking a week ahead and the game at hand is a potential trap. I don’t get any sense that the Eagles are looking ahead to the Bears game.

Trap games usually involve one of 3 things. You’re going to play a rival, a great team, or a great unit/player. If the Eagles were facing Dallas next week, this would be a trap game. If they were facing Drew Brees or the Seattle defense, this might be a trap game.

Minnesota can be a letdown game, but I don’t think this fits the definition of a trap game. Chicago will be a tough game next week, but I don’t see the Eagles thinking about them right now. I think the Bears would be the first to tell you that they’re flying a bit under the radar. A 7-6 record with Marc Trestman and Josh McCown makes for a really interesting story, but it isn’t going to fuel the hype machine.

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama came up with an interesting stat. He looked at Yards Per Play, offensively and defensively. The Eagles are 4th in the NFL in terms of Net Yards Per Play.

This may sound like s strange, if not silly, stat. But it isn’t. The Eagles offense is built on big plays. The defense focuses on limiting big plays. So this stat gives you a good idea if the team is doing what Kelly wants. They are. The only teams ahead of the Eagles are the Seahawks, Broncos and Saints.

• If you’ll notice, the only three teams ahead of the Eagles are the Seahawks, Broncos, and Saints, who have a combined record of 32-7 (.821).

• The Cowboys have a yards per play differential of -0.7, which is tied for 2nd worst in the NFL, behind only the Jaguars. The reigning Super Bowl champion Ravens are also very bad in this metric, at -0.6.

Good stuff.

As a bonus, you can watch Jimmy’s video appearance on the link. Is he trying out for The Walking Dead? I’ll let you be the judge.


55 Comments on “Chip Hitchcock”

  1. 1 Andy124 said at 6:46 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    So, 5 guys didn’t vote for Shady? What?

  2. 2 TheRogerPodacter said at 7:01 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    well shady can’t vote for himself and we can assume he is one that voted. that leaves 4 others that didn’t vote for shady : P

  3. 3 Ark87 said at 7:23 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    I”m going with members on the D. You only get 3 votes, odds are you want to give recognition to your own much over-looked unit. Likely the same guys that managed to squeeze Connor Barwin and/or Brandon Boykin onto their lists.

  4. 4 A_T_G said at 10:33 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    Come on, this one is easy:

    Donnie Jones. The little guys on the team are always insecure, and he didn’t want Shady edging him out because of the votes he cast.

    Nick Foles. He knows where his bread is buttered, he went OL, OL, OL.

    Matt Barkley. He just copied onto his clipboard what Nick wrote. Unfortunately, it was then intercepted on the way to the ballot box and changed to players from the secondary, hence Boykin.

    Jimmy Kempski. Jimmy convinced the intern handing out the ballots, who just started before the Detriot game, that he was the place kicker. The intern said he understood now why we kept going for two, but gave him a ballot. Jimmy voted for players with the names best for making anagrams, hence Barwin.

  5. 5 Anders said at 6:58 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    If this team ever plays a full game, we can beat anybody

  6. 6 OregonDucker said at 8:27 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    We will – against the Seahawks then the Broncos.

  7. 7 Anders said at 8:31 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    It would most likely have to be 4 straight good games. our road is most likely:

    Niners in wildcard round (at home)
    Saints in divisional round in the Dome
    Seahawks at Seattle
    Denver (or surprise team Bengals) in the Super Bowl.

  8. 8 Michael Jorden said at 10:35 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    If we ran that gauntlet on a 12 game win streak it would be one of the most insanely well earned rings ever. What would expectations be like for 2014? Mind blown.

    Okay – back to the reality of 1 week at a time. =)

  9. 9 ICDogg said at 7:19 PM on December 13th, 2013:

  10. 10 ATLeagle said at 7:26 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    I liked when I read last week that Chip doesnt care about results, he cares about process. That feeds in to not having traps and letdowns, as the actual games are arbitrary time boundaries on the teams execution. If enough plays are done correctly, then there will be a lot of numbers in the W column at the end of the year. The win streak becomes people just doing their jobs.

  11. 11 Daniel Norman Richwine said at 7:45 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    Chip trains his players. That’s the key phrase, trains. That’s the reap key to the Chip Kelly system.

  12. 12 P_P_K said at 9:25 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    How about Chip Tarantino? He is so far outside of the box that sometimes what he creates is shocking.

  13. 13 BlindChow said at 10:36 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    Also, his players are known for using the N-word?

  14. 14 mtn_green said at 10:12 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    Less plays, with a lot of variability built into the play(run:RB or QB, pass: bubble downfield), executed better, because of multiple reps.

  15. 15 BlindChow said at 10:31 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    Alfred Hitchcock did make a movie about the Birds…

  16. 16 OregonDucker said at 11:03 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    And those birds scared everyone!

  17. 17 Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran said at 11:13 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    C’mon, Tommy, AR does NOT over-think things. He merely thinks “outside the box” (well, OK – outside YOUR box of so-called common-sense, but squarely within his box of clearly superior “Reid-sense”).

    And by the way, AR never would have switched the chalets there at the end (because he’s so damn smart, he just would have pretended that he did)!

  18. 18 ICDogg said at 11:37 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    The vessel with the pestle has the pellet with the poison.

  19. 19 laeagle said at 12:30 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    I thought the vessel with the pestle had the brew that is true?

  20. 20 ICDogg said at 12:55 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    Yeah, I think eventually it did, after the chalice from the palace was broken and they put the pellet with the poison in the flagon with the dragon.

  21. 21 livingonapear said at 1:26 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    That’ll teach you to go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

  22. 22 shah8 said at 11:31 PM on December 13th, 2013:

    Quick thing, seen this for a long time, but execution simply is only on top of raw talent in the players, and well executed matchup games by the coaches/coordinators. Princeton offense is all well and good until it actually meets truly good teams–same with the Triple Option (when used by teams compensating for not having well rounded talent, ’90s Nebraska’s option game was what the good stuff looked like). Stud OL, stud RB, and sure, let’s execute all that on top of that talent!

  23. 23 ICDogg said at 1:09 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    Not sure I understand what you are saying (“execution simply is only on top of raw talent in the players”)

  24. 24 bsuperfi said at 1:18 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    I think it means we have a good roster and a great coach. We can expect to beat bad teams and even teams with good players and good coaches. When we play teams with great talent, it’s all out the window… Unless our talent is great too, at least in some key places. The Princeton offense can only take you so far without superior talent.

    What I honestly don’t know is how much talent we actually have. And to be fair, we haven’t seen what chip will do against week after week of top competition in the nfl.

    Should be an exciting end of the season.

  25. 25 ICDogg said at 2:47 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    Well, certainly, talent is a limiting factor. But the other side of that is, you can have a more talented team that does not play smart, and that may be an even worse situation than not having talent that is quite as good. To me, the Lions seem like a very talented team, but do they play smart? You always want to improve the talent but not at the expense of bringing in guys who don’t work hard enough or who are especially mistake-prone. And of course some guys fit into some systems and not others, so talent does not always translate into success for that reason as well.

    One thing the Eagles have going for them, is that they’ve got a lot of good young players, and not many guys who are getting too old. So they can build and get better rather than keep bringing in guys to replace the ones who get too old too fast.

    Another is, as always, they have a pretty good cap situation going forward, and not a lot of dead money. So they can actually plan on retaining much of this young talent that will need new contracts soon, and pick up a spare part or two without having to create cap space by restructuring existing contracts, as many teams have to do.

    Finally, there is the fact that there is a pretty good amount of parity in the NFL, and the talent difference from best to worst teams in the league is nowhere near the talent differences among college squads. Even some of the worst NFL teams are likely to have at least a couple of very good players. So it’s not really like the Princeton situation for that reason.

  26. 26 mheil said at 6:06 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    17m dead money this yr, 2.6m next yr

  27. 27 bill said at 8:40 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    It’s always important to remember the miracle on ice. The talent differential was orders of magnitude greater than the difference between the Jaguars and the Seahawks. Furthermore, the nature of hockey is such that coaching will necessarily have a lesser effect than it would in football. And yet, the less talented team executed better than the more talented team(s) and won.

    Obviously, talent is part of the equation. But so is Allen Iverson’s bane. Inferior talent can win when they play faster due to superior practice habits.

  28. 28 Neil said at 12:39 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    Read my reply to him for what I think he’s trying to get at. Or if he’s not trying to get at it, a more correct view of it.

  29. 29 Neil said at 12:38 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    Talent is part of execution. So is doing what you’re supposed to the way you’re supposed to. Talent doesn’t matter if the latter is missing, but it wil be the difference between two teams who both do the latter.

  30. 30 ICDogg said at 2:08 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    And so is having a system making it reasonably possible for players to be able to do what they’re supposed to. But enough about the Wide 9.

  31. 31 ACViking said at 1:23 PM on December 14th, 2013:


    I think you’re making a great point.

  32. 32 Anders said at 2:40 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    Auburn’s wing T offense looks like a monster that cant be stopped this year

  33. 33 ACViking said at 3:54 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    Wing T’s been around since the 1950s — constructed by UDelaware’s HC Dave “Admiral” Nelson. Finetuned by Tubby Raymond.

    Here’s a link to a site all about the W-T. Great stuff.

    There’s an article on the site that discusses how — in the 1980s — the Jet Sweep was developed in Georgia high school football and then refined by the H.C. at Cumberland University in Tennessee. It took about 20 years for the J-sweep to percolate up to the NFL.

  34. 34 Anders said at 5:27 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    Nice stuff. I always love to see good coaches like Gus take an old scheme, change it a bit and have success. The big thing will show it can work in the long run.

    Did you know Gus is also the guy who is credited with the wildcat play? And that Nick Marshall was original a cb in college?

  35. 35 Dominik said at 7:34 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    Re: Eagles 2014 Schedule

    I know, I know, it’s early. But I read this on a Vikings blog. It shouldn’t be a surprise that they care about stuff like that, like we did last season at that time of the year.

    Here it is:

    My thoughts: Seattle at home is a break. But other than that, we didn’t have much luck, imho. We get the bad teams at home (Rams, Jags, Titans) and the good ones away (Cards, 49ers, Colts). I rather have the 49ers in Philly and beat the Rams in St. Louis, for example.

    If we finish 1st this year, we’ll get the Saints (at least that’s how it looks like at the moment) at home, that’s another break. Seattle and New Orleans should be the toughest places to play in the NFC.

    Like I said at the beginning, it’s very early and we are lucky enough to talk about stuff that really matters in December. But I’m interested in your opinions, so what’s your take on the schedule?

  36. 36 theycallmerob said at 9:53 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    Sorry Dom, I can’t get on board with that yet….no way to predict how those teams will be. Many thought we had easy games against the afc west this year….

  37. 37 Dominik said at 10:23 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    I give you the Rams with their two first rounders (own + Skins) and the Texans (solid D, good running game, new QB with a high pick). But other than that, I don’t think we’ll fear the Jags or Titans next season. Those are bad teams since a few years now.

    Chiefs were a different story, there was talent on the defensive side. Playing THAT kind of season was not predictable, but it was obvious that they’ll be better this season.

    Same story with the Saints – I was pretty sure that they’ll be good again with Payton on the sideline.

    The NFC West was the best division in football last season and they are again this season. I don’t think that will change.

    You are right that it is very early, though, I’ll give you that.

  38. 38 bill said at 7:56 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    Maybe only slightly related, but I’ve been thinking of this story since Chip was hired earlier this year:

    20ish years ago, I was in New Hampshire for undergrad, and Parcells had been hired to try to make something out of a horrible Patriots squad. He had middling success that year, and the press up there was very upbeat about him and the team. Towards the end of the year though, they had a string of goal line opportunities that ended in FGs. Some controversy ensued, as Parcells was calling (IIRC) off tackle power plays over and over and over in those situations. The press started pushing him about maybe being slightly more creative in his play calls. Parcells’s response? (paraphrased for hazy memory) “The game is about execution. It doesn’t matter what I call if the players don’t execute it. On the other hand, if they do execute, these plays work. The playcalling is secondary – execution is the key.”

    I’m not sure why it made such an impression on me at the time, but it did. And when I heard about Kelly’s simplified offense, and emphasis on execution through more repetitions of the plays at practice, it immediately made me think of Parcells and his statement.

  39. 39 TommyLawlor said at 11:30 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    Good story. Thanks for sharing. Right on the money with what I’m talking about.

  40. 40 ACViking said at 1:18 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    Anyone think the defenses of the ’60s didn’t know the Packers were going to run the power sweep inside the 10?

    They all knew. Didn’t matter w/ HOFers Hornung, Taylor, Gregg, Ringo, and All Pros Thurston, Kramer, and Skoronski executing to a “T”.

  41. 41 OregonDucker said at 11:51 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    Yes, this is why we saw such poor play early in the season – lack of execution. Now these young players understand what is expected, how to execute, and the results of doing things right. Oh yeah, the head coach has learned some things about the NFL too. Now it’s time to rock!

  42. 42 nicolajNN said at 8:13 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    With this philosophy of simplicity and emphasis on execution in mind, was it perhaps a little foolish of us to think the defence would feature a bunch of hybrid stuff and 4-3 Under? I’m sure it’s mixed in, but for the most part it seems like we run fairly normal stuff.

  43. 43 BlindChow said at 10:10 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    My favorite show on Sundays:

  44. 44 Ark87 said at 10:40 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    I like Chip’s remake of “The Birds” even better than the original.

  45. 45 Neil said at 12:33 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    I think London Fletcher admitted the Redskins knew exactly what was coming most of the time after RG3 said our defense just seemed to know what their offense was going to do.

  46. 46 Weapon Y said at 1:28 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    I’ll be interested to see if Chip can avoid predictability when some of his players leave for other teams. Chances are he will be fine because of the nature of an option offense, but I’ll admit it is a potential concern.

  47. 47 Neil said at 1:56 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    There really isn’t avoiding predictability in the NFL. Coaches catalog each team’s entire known playbooks based on film alone. At best you’re springing a play on a team you use at most a handful of times per season.

    The reason for this is if you get too bogged down in practice practicing a million different plays, you won’t be able to execute. It’s way more effective to just execute even if the opponent knows with reasonable certainty what you’re going to do. What makes unpredictability unnecessary is having a set of plays that play off each other. Like if they decide to defend one, you have a perfect play to take advantage of that defense they switch to, or your counter is built into the play as a postsnap read. The defense will know the several options beforehand, but they’ll be handcuffed by the fact that you’re just going to react to what they decide to do. Therefore, they’re never in an optimal position to defend you, even though they understand your offense almost as well as you.

  48. 48 OregonDucker said at 4:08 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    Neil, your points are well taken. What Chip does to counter predictability is to use variations on the same theme. Motion a TE to counter the D’s bunch formation in response to a zone read formation. His package plays are always changing but with the same formation – this drove Harbaugh nuts in Duck games against Stanford. (see for more insight.)

    Because of Chip’s moves to be “unpredictable”, many college coaches, and some in the NFL, consider him to be an offensive genius.

  49. 49 jshort said at 11:17 AM on December 14th, 2013:

    You saying that’s why we miss challenges. Chip and Shurmur are half asleep?

  50. 50 ACViking said at 1:16 PM on December 14th, 2013:


    Your night time work is classic. Any way to link the Hitch music to your “CK Presents”?

    Also . . . who would have starring in the Tony Perkins role in CK’s Psycho remake?

  51. 51 Philip Soloninka said at 1:48 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    Fipp, by a mile.

  52. 52 SteveH said at 3:15 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    Can’t… look… away…

  53. 53 ACViking said at 3:50 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    A fine directorial choice.

  54. 54 ICDogg said at 3:52 PM on December 14th, 2013:

  55. 55 OregonDucker said at 4:21 PM on December 14th, 2013:

    Mark Saltveit makes a great point in this quote: “Zhuangzi, the other great Taoist writer, noted how master archers lose their touch when the prize money increases and they think about winning rather than shooting.”

    The point is that Chip’ focus on execution rather than big games, or any game for that matter, keeps the player honest with his emotions. It is hoped that players do not fall prey to trap games or letdowns. This really, really defines Chip. It’s what differentiates him from the herd.